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Wiregrass Ranch baseball coach Jeff Swymer resigns upon facing suspension
Posted Jun 13, 2013 by Mike Camunas
Updated Jun 13, 2013 at 04:39 PM
After the team’s most successful season, Wiregrass Ranch baseball coach Jeff Swymer has resigned from his position, Swymer told the Tampa Tribune on Thursday afternoon.
According to Pasco County School Board spokeswoman Linda Cobbe, Swymer, 32, was facing a year-long suspension from coaching for an incident during Spring Break that occurred with players present. Swymer, who took the Bulls down to a March tournament in Fort Lauderdale, went to a bowling alley with the players and other parent chaperons one evening. Swymer then consumed a beer with the parents, however, in front of players, Cobb said.
While players without parents present are with Swymer, they are his responsibility and coaches and/or teachers are not allowed to consume alcohol, Cobbe added.
“It’s terribly unfortunate — I know the school feels sick about it. I know he feels sick about it,” Cobbe said. “It was a unfortunate lapse of judgement and you feel bad for everyone, especially the players who lose their coach.”
Cobbe added Swymer, who is not employed as a teacher for Pasco County, had not yet been suspended or told of the suspension, an assistant principal at the school, however, advised him of the likely outcome, so Swymer opted to resign.
Bulls athletic director Dave Wilson said Thursday morning the school and administration stood behind Swymer, but Swymer decided to step down because of the circumstances. Swymer, who was named the Tribune’s All-Pasco County Coach of the Year, said he was touched by the outreach and support from players and the text messages they sent.
“They are the ones I’m the most concerned about,” Swymer said. ‘I’ve got kids I’ve had since they were eighth graders and now they’re going to be seniors. ... They’re struggling with this.”
In a letter to players and their parents that was obtained by the Tribune, Swymer addressed his gratitude to player’s hard work and dedication. However, he also mentioned that an anonymous party reported the incident.
Swymer, who was 76-33 record in four seasons, led the Bulls to a 19-10 record and to the Class 7A region final that included an upset of then-nationally ranked Steinbrenner. This 2013 season was also Wiregrass’ first postseason berth in program history.
“Wiregrass Ranch High School baseball has become one of the top baseball programs in the state over Jeff’s tenure due to his tireless work and dedication to the program,” Wilson said in a statement.
Swymer’s resignation also hurts the football team, as Swymer had become an invaluable assistant to a Bulls team looking to snap a 22-game losing streak.
Players took to Twitter to display their outrage and support for Swymer.
“Coach swymer is wiregrass baseball. Can’t do it without him, bring him back!” junior outfielder Austin Drury said.